The big banks are getting the most attention, but credit unions have also grown during the pandemic, especially the giant Navy Federal Credit Union.
Its assets total $ 149 billion, or three times that of the second largest credit union in the United States, the State Employees’ Credit Union. In the past five years, it has opened 50 new branches for a total of 346 worldwide.
The credit union, formed in 1933, serves members of the military, the US Department of Defense, veterans and their families. It has grown from 3.6 million members to 10.7 million members over the past decade.
âIt’s a very, very large financial institution with a growing reach here and abroad,â said Karen Doorway, president and research director at BauerFinancial, a bank and credit union rating research firm. .
The story of the growth is evident in North Texas, where the Vienna, Virginia-based credit union operates 10 branches serving nearly 270,000 members. It has opened branches in Mesquite and Burleson this year and plans to open another in Mansfield in the fall.
A credit union is a non-profit organization that its members own in order to achieve better savings rates, lower loan rates, and lower fees. Unlike banks, which are for-profit institutions, credit unions do not pay federal corporate income tax.
Members of credit unions have things in common, whether it is where they live, work or worship. For Navy Federal, its size makes sense given its audience.
âYou have huge membership potential there,â Doorway said. “And they often set up near military bases where they can reach as much as possible.”
The Doorway Company rates credit unions, giving Navy Federal its highest five-star rating for 44 consecutive quarters because it is well capitalized and profitable. As of March, just over half of America’s 5,200 credit unions had five-star ratings.
But even the Navy Federal has not been spared a negative impact from COVID-19. Its net income declined significantly in 2020 after several years of steady growth to $ 810 million, from around $ 1.67 billion in 2019. But its assets grew by 21% and its membership increased by 11. % for the same period. Mortgages set an annual record of $ 23.4 billion, as did auto loans, financing 442,455 vehicles for members.
Michele Foster, regional director of operations for the Texas North branch, said she remembers when Navy Federal only had one North Texas location in Fort Worth. The branch would remain open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. because members of Plano and Houston were driving there after work.
âMembers have been asking for more locations here for some time,â she said.
Foster, who has worked for Navy Federal for 17 years, said she was not yet happy with North Texas’s membership numbers. She sees a gap.
In North Texas alone there are 340,000 veterans, but the credit union has only 270,000 members. That’s why it’s already in talks to open two more branches in 2022, she said, although it’s too early to say where.
âOur members always love to come,â she said. âThey like to have a similar experience in the branches, whether they are in Japan, Pearl Harbor or north of Dallas.
People entering branches are asking for everything from quarterly rolls to business loans, she said.
Navy Federal, of course, seeks to expand where military personnel, veterans, and their families are located. Texas is at the bottom of the list when it comes to the percentage of the state’s population that are veterans. For Texas, it represents about 7% of the population, the same as that of the greater region of the United States, according to a recent report by the Texas Workforce Investment Council. In Alaska, considered to have the highest percentage of veterans, about 10% of the population qualify.
Dallas-Fort Worth has nearly 8 million people with a veteran density of 4.5%, according to Navy Federal.
The Navy Federal’s biggest local rival is San Antonio-based USAA, which has an office in Plano and is also a leading financial company for veterans and members of the military. It was started by 25 army officers in 1922 and has reached 13 million members and over $ 200 billion in total assets. Its bank is the 29th largest in the United States
Navy Federal’s new branch in Burleson opened on June 7 with 10 team members and has 18,027 members living within a 30-minute drive. The two nearest branches are in Arlington and Fort Worth, both about 20 minutes away.
By noon on opening day, the Burleson branch already had 21 member visits, 27 cash transactions and two new memberships. The first member was so excited that he asked them to take his picture to show it to his wife and asked for a tour of the office.
âWe don’t have coffee or donuts,â Foster said. âThey just want to come see us. For many of them, we are part of their daily life.